In The Path, we spotlight different women making a difference in the beauty, fashion, and medical aesthetics industries. Here, fashion expert Brooke Jaffe shares her road to success.
Saying that fashion expert Brooke Jaffe has an impressive resumé — with 10 years as Bloomingdale’s women’s fashion director and SVP fashion director at start-up Fitz™ to her credit — is an understatement. Even more impressive, her entire career was launched with a single phone call.
“One day, I decided to comb every masthead of every magazine just to see names,” Jaffe shares. “I happened to stumble across the name of somebody who was a senior in my sorority in college when I was a freshman. I didn’t know her well and decided to call 411. I left a voicemail on her answering machine saying, ‘Hey, don’t know if you remember me. I know you’re Anna Wintour’s assistant. Call me. I’d like to work at Vogue,’” she says. From there, she worked in Vogue’s accessories department, moving on to InStyle and beyond.
Given her unconventional methods to success, it should come as no surprise that she gives excellent advice. We asked her to share her recommendations on everything — from career tips and how to navigate fashion in the world of social media, to her regimented skincare routine.
Always Be On the Lookout For Inspiration
A job doesn’t always stop when you leave the office. Inspiration is everywhere, and for fashion insiders especially, it is important to take in everything around you.
“You need to be immersed in the place that you live,” she says. “I’m always in stores. I’m always looking to see what designers are getting a disproportionate amount of real estate. Who’s getting moved around? Who did Barney’s move up to the sixth floor and who did they move down to five? I also go to cool trendy restaurants and the theater, and sometimes at the theater I’ll see the trends in the costumes they’re wearing.”
Use Instagram to Your Advantage
Instagram can be a great tool when used correctly. “I’m definitely addicted to Instagram, I’ve found a lot of designers through Instagram,” she says. “Bloomingdale’s actually started contacting small designers on Instagram; they’d send direct messages and book appointments and meetings that way. There’s so much opportunity out there.” She adds, “It is definitely overwhelming, but if you love culture and are an observant person and understand the cadence business, then you can become an expert.”
“They’re on fashion people’s radar, but not really mass market just yet,” she says. “I’m obsessed with Saloni. It’s just sort of this happy, floral, colorful prints and really just wearable bodies, where I can see myself wearing them all day in meetings and then go straight from the office to dinner for a date or with friends. I call them all-day-long dresses and I love them.”
Choose Skincare Over Makeup
If skin isn’t properly taken care of, no amount of makeup can help hide imperfections. That’s why for Jaffe especially, makeup takes a backseat. “I would say my skincare regimen is sacred,” she says, noting that her makeup routine isn’t particularly advanced. “It’s a combination of luck in having good genes with my skin and being protective of my skin that I never felt the need to use makeup to camouflage anything,” she says. “That being said, Cle de Peau Beauté The Foundation is God’s gift to man. It is literally my splurge and I will never not have it on my person or in my bathroom.”
For her combination skin, she thanks dermatologist Neal Schultz, MD for keeping her skin in check. “I’m very lucky because he’s walking distance from my front door so when there’s a skin emergency, I can see him right away,” she says. “I am really diligent about taking care of things ASAP.” Her favorite treatment to get at his office is his peel. “It removes sebum and dead skin from my face. I love it; I get compliments immediately when I do it,” she says.
Other products she loves to use in her well regimented skincare routine (“I’m religious in my washing, moisturizing, and toning situation; I never not take off my makeup before going to bed”) are the BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz Balancing Cleanser and Clarifying Toner, Biologique Recherche P50, Darphin moisturizer, and La Roche-Posay® Anthelios Mineral SPF 50.
She also uses BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz exfoliating pads twice a day because of her workouts. “I’m a big runner so one of the things we do now is that I have to prep my skin in pre- and post- workout because my skin is that crazy.”
Don’t Give Up On Old School Tricks in the Workplace
With the rise of social media and influencers, it can be easy for people to forget simple workplace etiquette — especially in fashion. But Jaffe believes it takes more than a good eye to succeed in this particular industry; the hard workers are still the ones who stand out the most. “The ones I’ve always wanted to mentor are the ones that have really worked the hardest; there’s a passion for the work,” she says. “I was always working. Good or bad, my claim to fame in every job was that I was always the last one there.”
She advises others to be cognizant of people’s feelings; those who learn to control their emotions and learn to work well with others will get far. “Figure out which parts of your personality can compliment others,” she says. “I think if you can become a good reader of personalities and sort of be agile, you can advance.” And if someone as accomplished as Jaffe swears by that, then we’re committing the tip to memory.
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